Who is Kliff Kingsbury?
Who is the Texas Tech head football coach?
Is he the one-time Red Raider QB turned offensive guru? Is he a limited experience hire who has struggled to learn on the job? Is he a coach that only his alma mater would hire in 2012 to run the show? Is he an offensive master-mind taking the “Air Raid” offense to new heights like no other coach? Is he a coach with his job on the line?
The answer is yes? To all of the above and this season Texas Tech fans will learn exactly who Kliff Kingsbury will be when it comes to the future of Texas Tech football.
Kingsbury is at once an interesting subject to follow. On one hand he is quiet, reserved and reticent when it comes to his personality both on and off the field. As a player at Texas Tech, you’d get maybe ten to fifteen seconds of sound bite from Kingsbury. He was articulate but measured and not exactly comfortable in dealing with the media. Kingsbury is also fiercely loyal to his players and philosophy and will defend it in the media in post-game pressers and more. Just ask folks in Arkansas.
As a coach, Kingsbury is the same guarded person. Learning at the feet of Mike Leach and Bill Belichick Kingsbury embraces many of their traits when dealing with fans, media and scrutiny. He has time for none of it and no desire to engage in it beyond what is required by the school or the conference. If you’re looking for a guy wanting his own reality show, keep looking. Kingsbury would rather draw a play on a napkin, break down film or hang with his closes friends in the tightest of circles than become a media star.
And that’s not bad.
On the flip-side of that style are those who say Leach and Belichick have earned the right to be curt, cantankerous and flaky by their win totals and career accomplishments. (never mind the fact that both coaches were that way before they ever won a thing at all) There are many who say Kingsbury doesn’t have the skins on the wall to not pay attention to the so-called “little things” in college football in dealing with fans, boosters and media.
Kingsbury is a policy wonk in a college football world of Donald Trumps and Bill Clintons. In today’s college football world the CEO Coach is King. They drive the headlines, make the money – and for the most part win. The grinders, the guys who just want to coach have to be doubly good. And so far, Kingsbury hasn’t met that level that allows him to skate, letting his wins and losses speak for themselves.
So, we get back to the idea of who Kingsbury really is.
Is he a coach who can suddenly embrace the defensive side of the ball, coach it up and make a difference? His old mentor, Mike Leach, never could and still hasn’t. Can Kingsbury become more comfortable out front of the program, engaging with fans, donors and media engendering good faith, and when you need it – folks who will go to bat for you and save your job like Spike Dykes had over the years?
This coming season is really all about Kingsbury for Texas Tech.
Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt tied himself to Kingsbury not when he hired him, but when he gave him a massive raise after year one that saw Tech limp to the finish line. There was seemingly no reason to invest further in Kingsbury at the time, a coach learning on the go with no where to go. But, Hocutt went all in and now Hocutt is all in this year on the future of Tech football. Are Kingsbury and Hocutt tied at the hips this year when it comes to their futures at Texas Tech? I don’t think so.
Hocutt will have to ask himself as this season plays out, “Who is Kliff Kingsbury?”
Is he a coach learning and on the rise? Is he a coach who no matter the record, up or down, Texas Tech can move forward with? Maybe more importantly, is Kingsbury a coach who can help Hocutt keep his job going forward . . .
So, who is Kliff Kingsbury?
I think that we won’t have to wait too long this season to find out that answer. I think by the time the West Texas winds begin to shift to the north, by the time they’re stripping cotton and the gins are up and running, by the time there’s a faint chill in the air of winter we will know the answer. By then we will know if Kliff Kingsbury is the turn-around king of Tech football or if he’s a favorite son who just returned too soon to too many challenges.
Either way, Kliff Kingsbury is a good man. Sometimes a good man just finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time in history. It’s up to Kingsbury now to write the history so many Texas Tech fans want to read.